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Twelve off-beat hikes in Europe


Europe is well known for its culture, food and history. Often overlooked are the countryside, national parks, mountains, hills and forests which offer an amazing kaleidoscope of great hiking and trekking. And even on a continent as densely populated as Europe, you can still get off the beaten track. Here are our picks for the best off-beat hikes in Europe.

Ireland - Dingle Peninsula Guided Rated Moderate, 3 out of 10 8 days from $2459 Rated as one of the most spectacular areas on Ireland's West Coast, the Dingle Peninsula has a rich history dating back to over 6000 years and an amazing variety of archaeological treasures. Throw in traditional Irish hospitality and cheer, music and village pubs, and you have an area hard to beat. View trip

Portugal - The Fishermen's Trail Self-guided Rated Moderate to Challenging, 5 out of 10

7 days from $1159 To the south of the bustling capital of Lisbon awaits a contrasting landscape of wild beauty, where tourists rarely visit despite endless beaches and authentic fishing villages. This is the Alentejo region, covering a third of Portugal's land mass but just 4% of its population. Following this dramatic coast where wildflowers and butterflies keep company with just a handful of hikers, there is ample opportunity to take a swim or a rest break overlooking the endless ocean. In the evening, enjoy carefully handpicked accommodation where your hosts take pride in the cuisine and culture of the region and where delicious seafood and delectable wine is standard. View trip

Spain - Ancient trails of the Moors

Guided Rated Moderate, 3 out of 10

8 days from $1485 White-washed villages clinging to steep mountainsides, shepherds grazing their flocks, threshing platforms that were used by the Moors and ancient Roman bridges leading over babbling brooks. The Alpujarras are a little-known corner of Spain waiting to be discovered. View trip

France - Best of the Pyrenees Guided Rated Introductory to moderate, 2 out of 10

8 days from $2190 They may be lower than the Alps, but the Pyrenees are nothing less spectacular. Discover beautiful landscapes, traditional villages and a history, culture and language unique to the region. Choose from gentle tours to more involved tours (where you stay two nights at a mountain refuge).

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France - across Corsica on the GR20 Guided Rated Challenging to tough, 9 out of 10 15 days from $3795 The GR20 is considered one of the most challenging long distance hiking routes in Europe, crossing the rugged and beautiful interior of the island of Corsica. You'll see granite mountains, alpine lakes, plunging gorges, dramatic cliff-top paths, lush green meadows and even some snowy peaks during the day and experience warm hospitality and delicious mountain fare during the evenings, this is one trip for people ready to challenge themselves. View trip

Italy - Island Hopping in the Bay of Naples

Guided

Rated Leisurely to Moderate, 2 out of 10

8 days from $1995

Not far off-shore from the Amalfi Coast, Ischia and Capri have long been the summer playground of the rich and famous. However, away from the yachts, glamorous piazzas and exclusive boutiques, the stunning natural landscape of these islands also offer breath-taking walking opportunities with their great variety of quiet coastal trails, secluded sea coves and pastel-coloured villages. We also visit the island of Procida - one of Italy’s best kept-secrets - and end the tour in the vibrant Naples.

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Italy - Dolomites Via Ferrate Guided Rated Moderate to challenging, 5 out of 10 7 days from $1849 The breathtaking peaks of the Dolomites have to been seen to be believed. Towering above alpine meadows, they stand out as sentinels guarding an ancient empire. During WW1 the mountain range was the front line between one such empire, the Austro-Hungarian, and Italy. Iron ladders were fastened to cliffs to allow soldiers to move between defensive posts. These ladders and walkways have now been turned in to recreational facilities, allowing hikers great access to otherwise inaccessible corners of this spectacular mountain range. View trip

Italy - Food lover's Francigena way Guided Rated Moderate, 3 out of 10 14 days from $5590 Following the southern section of an ancient pilgrimage trail between Canterbury and Rome, this culinary walking trip makes travelling to Italy a dream come true. Incredible food, amazing cities, towns and villages, beautiful landscapes, a rich history and fantastic art treasures are all ingredients of this wonderful walk through the Italian hills. View trip